2017 Global Nutrition Report: Progress Is Behind, Despite Economic Consequences

Nutrition

This year’s report card on global nutrition was just released—and the findings show the world still has work to do.

The 2017 Global Nutrition Report—produced by leading food security organizations—outlines the planet’s progress toward eradicating malnutrition, including stunting, wasting, micronutrient deficiency and obesity.

This year’s report draws particular attention to the role of nutrition in achieving the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

Here are some of the key takeaways:

  • The world is not on pace to meet its global nutrition targets. Despite the fact that 1 in 3 people on this planet is undernourished, investments in nutrition only accounted for 0.5% of Official Development Assistance (ODA) in 2015. While outright global funding for undernourishment increased slightly between 2014 and 2015, the percentage of ODA in real terms has fallen. Of the 203 global nutrition targets established in 2013, for example, only 36% are on track or have already been achieved. With the current level of funding ambition, the report estimates the likelihood of achieving global obesity targets at less than 1%.
  • Malnourishment is increasingly a by-product of conflict, and nutrition is a major contributor to global stability. There is growing evidence to suggest that investments in food and nutrition contribute to the stability of nations. The report notes that “the proportion of undernourished people living in countries in conflict and protracted crisis is almost three times higher than that in other developing countries.” Reducing child stunting is almost four times easier in countries unaffected by conflict than in countries experiencing violent conflict or social unrest (See figure 3.7 on page 61 of the report).
  • Global nutrition can contribute to the achievement of multiple Sustainable Development Goals beyond SDG 2 “Zero Hunger” alone. Investments in nutrition will play a critical role in environmental sustainability and SDG 13 on Climate Action, for example, as healthy eating habits can help reduce carbon emissions from the agricultural sector. Similarly, improved nutrition will reduce the burden on health systems, making SDG 3 Good Health and Well-Being more achievable. Ultimately, nutrition improvements will positively contribute to the achievement each of the 17 SDGs.
  • Nutrition interventions have a sizeable return on investment: Every $1 in funding generates $16 in downstream benefits. The report notes that “nutrition is linked to GDP growth: the prevalence of stunting declines by an estimated 3.2% for every 10% increase in income per capita, and a 10% rise in income translates into a 7.4% fall in wasting.”

For its positive economic impacts, contributions to improved global stability and the multiplier effect on SDG achievement, investment in global nutrition is critical, especially in the context of today’s unprecedented humanitarian crisis.

“We all stand to benefit from a world without malnutrition,” noted WFP’s Executive Director David Beasley in the report’s foreword.

“The devastating humanitarian crises in 2017 threaten to reverse years of hard-won nutrition gains, and ending these crises—and the man-made conflicts driving many of them—is the first step to ending malnutrition. Nutrition is an essential ingredient of the Sustainable Development Goals, key to a world with zero hunger.

This report makes clear we must all take action—now—to end malnutrition.”

You can download the full report here.